Do you ever wonder why some muffins (like the ones at the coffee shop) are proudly domed while others (like the ones from a home oven) fall flat?
I am not an expert baker, but I have some experience with flour, and I make a lot of muffins.
I have been baking muffins for most of my life. As my children have grown, muffins tend to be a favorite breakfast item in our home. We use freshly milled flour for baking, so muffins are more “health food” than “dessert.”
I’ve had muffin success and muffin fails. It happens.
Some days, the whole world is against you and there is nothing that can be done about the caved in muffins.
Take yesterday, for instance.
I was busy in my kitchen, as usual, crafting breakfast for the troops. This would not be anything to write about, except that DH is on a “stay home and have breakfast with the family” kick which is really jamming up my mojo.
He sits at the end of the island and sips coffee while I make breakfast. Did I mention that he sits at the end of the island…. sips coffee… and watches me... while I make breakfast?
This sort of audience (yes, even my dear husband) throws me completely off kilter and I don’t know where the eggs are.
Never put me on a cooking show.
So, I was making muffins. DH was commenting about how good I am at making messes as I preheated the lower oven.
I shoved the muffins in the oven and began cleaning up the disaster. 12 minutes later I checked on the muffins to see that they hadn’t begun to rise. Then I noticed that I shoved the uncooked muffins into the upper oven, which was off.
I nonchalantly moved the muffins into the hot oven and pretended like it was normal.
Yes. Everyone lets muffins rest in a cool oven for 12 minutes before baking them. A-hem.
So, I baked the muffins in a hot oven (this works much better) BUT the baking soda and baking powder had already done their thing – and my muffins were a disaster. A flat, caved in, dense disaster.
I blame DH.
Here are some tips for perfect domed muffins every time.
7 TIPS FOR DOMED MUFFINS
ONE: Use Small Muffin Tins
Using the tiny muffin tins always makes my muffins perfect. If I have flat muffins, it is almost always in the large muffin pan. The high oven temperature can have more difficulty reaching the center of larger muffins.
TWO: Higher Temperatures
Baking muffins at 400 degrees for a shorter period of time can increase the doming effect. This will raise the temp of the batter quickly and lift the centers. Be careful not to over-brown the muffins. Many recipes call for a 400-degree oven for 6 minutes and then backing down the heat to 350 until done.
THREE: Start with room temperature
Begin baking with room temperature ingredients. Eggs, butter, milk, etc. This has often been a problem in our kitchen due to the fresh flour. We store our fresh-milled flour in the freezer. Adding frozen flour to any batter will cool it down dramatically.
When making muffins, we often mill our flour fresh right before baking. This gives us the most nutritious flour and it is pleasantly warm which helps the muffins rise.
FOUR: Whip it Good
It is so important to whisk the blazes out of the batter before the flour goes in. This happens in phases. When you add the sugar to the butter – whip it good. After you add the eggs – whisk like your life depends on it. After you add the sour cream, once again, whisk until the mixture resembles thick custard. Always mix well as you combine ingredients. The only ingredients that should not be mixed into oblivion is the flour and the fruit.
The flour should be mixed until it is just combined and then the berries will be gently folded in.
Under mixed batter causes much more than rising problems. If the eggs and other ingredients are not completely combined the muffins will be dense, tough, and dry.
If you have ever pulled a batch of muffins out of the oven (especially if they are made with fresh flour) and the cake was more like a dense cornbread than a light white cake, it was probably because of under mixing.
FIVE: Thick Batter
Muffin batter should be thick. A good rule of thumb is that you want muffin batter to be “spoonable” NOT “pourable.” If your muffin batter will pour – it is too liquidy to stand tall. Try decreasing the liquids (milk) or butter the next time you make the recipe.
SIX: Beware of Baking Soda
I have found that a combination of baking powder (usually 2-3 teaspoons depending on the recipe) and baking soda (1/4 teaspoon) provides the best lift for muffins. When using these for lift, muffins should go into a preheated oven immediately after mixing the batter.
There are folks who say they let their batter “rest” for an hour or overnight before baking -but this doesn’t make sense to me. The baking powder and soda create a chemical reaction that is time sensitive. The rising action only happens for a short period of time – and the muffins need to make it in the oven before the rise dies.
If I forget to preheat the oven or happen to shove the muffins into the wrong (cold) oven – they usually fail.
SEVEN: Fill’em Up
Sometimes muffins want to dome, but there just is not enough batter in the cup. If you want your muffins to dome high above the wrapper, or spill over like the ones from the bakery, fill the cups.
For nice rounded tops, fill the cups almost to the top with batter.
For muffins that spill out, fill the cups (I don’t do this because I don’t like cleaning pans).
Now that we know how to get perfect muffin tops – let us make some!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Fill muffin tins with wrappers.
Soften the butter in a large bowl. Add the sugar and use an electric mixer to beat on high until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and thoroughly combine each one with the electric mixer. You can actually add them all at once if you wish… Adding them separately is actually just a tricky way to get you to mix the batter up more. The more mixing, the better. It will produce light, fluffy muffins!
After the eggs are whipped fluffy, add the sour cream and beat again with the electric mixer like mad. Add the vanilla and milk and mix it well.
You will have a light, creamy custard.
Grab another big bowl and combine the fresh flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir it all together. Now, add the dry ingredients to the wet ones. Please ignore the fact that the 2 utensils coming out of the bottom of my hand mixer to not match. This is what happens when an 11-year-old bakes.
If you are using freshly milled soft white wheat berries (which is the healthiest option) you will add 3 level cups of flour (do not pack). If you are using store-bought flour only add 2 1/2 cups.
Fresh flour is much lighter because…. it was just milled. Flour that is purchased from stores has traveled, it has been stored and it has been sitting on shelves – it is much more packed down and dense. This the reason you will need less flour when using store-bought, AND more flour when using fresh.
Use the mixer on medium to thoroughly combine the dry with the wet. Stop mixing as soon as all the flour is incorporated.
The batter should be thick. Almost as thick as cookie dough.
Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to fold in the blueberries.
Spoon into muffin tin lined with wrappers. Be sure to fill them up. In order to achieve domed muffins, there must be enough batter in the cups to rise well.
Top with a little cane sugar if desired.
Bake 400 degrees 17-19 minutes (until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean).
Baking in a hot oven (400 degrees) will be magic for these muffins. It will quickly cook the outside (and edges) of the muffin so it won’t spread all over the tin and go flat. The high heat will also heat the inside of the muffin quickly and cause it to rise.
When the muffins come out the oven you can lay them on their sides to encourage those beautiful high domes! I also use this trick with loaves of bread. Always lay them on their sides to cool
Say goodbye to flat muffins!
If you have not made the switch to fresh flour – what are you waiting for? It’s filled with nourishing vitamins and nutrients. It is truly whole grain, fiber-rich, high in protein and a superfood galore. Grinding your own wheat is as easy as grinding coffee beans – but much healthier! Learn more here.
I’ve been grinding grains and baking with fresh flour since 2004. If you are serious about this life change – be sure to join the membership community. You’ll learn how to bake perfect loaves in your oven (6 at a time), how to cook with fresh flour and get access to dozens of proven fresh-flour recipes that delight.
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